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Staging Alterity Performance Festival

Staging Alterity 2018:

Meeting of International Performances

To perform is not to produce products, but to present human being


Time: September 21-24, 2018
Venue: Shanghai Ming Contemporary Art Museum
Organizer: Shanghai Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Ming Yuan Group Co., Ltd.
Initiator: Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council
Curator: Zhao Chuan

Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council is pleased to support Ming Contemporary Art Museum (McaM) in presenting Staging Alterity 2018 from September 21 to 24, to gather young explorative performers from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, demonstrating infinite possibilities of performances.

This four-day event is curated by veteran performance practitioner Zhao Chuan. In addition to lectures and performances, it’s also planned to hold a day-long workshop for participating artists. The invited artists have various backgrounds, including dance, theatre, performance art, video, theory, and curating. This is the second Staging Alterity 2018 event since its debut at Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum in 2016. The curator Zhao Chuan said, ‘I wish Staging Alterity 2018 to become a festival, one centering on seeing performance not as products but the presence of people, in interaction and intersection with more people.’

Ming Contemporary Art Museum will become a stage of alterity in four days of early autumn in September. Through those performances, presentations and discussions, the performance of difference promises new power and vitality. With artists inspiring and reflecting on each other across the plane of difference, the moments of these scenes truly become the presence of Different Lives.

The project will discuss about: where do rehearsal and performance come from, what could they be and where do they go? How do different social environments, different cultures, and various backgrounds form resources and subject matter for performers, performance artists, theatre-makers and dancers? How do their various artistic creations take initial form and then grow and evolve?

Staging Alterity 2018 is organized by Shanghai Ming Contemporary Art Museum (McaM), initiated by Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council, and supported by Abteilung Kultur und Bildung Generalkonsulatder Bundesrepublik Deutschland Shanghai, Transcultural Collaboration Graduate Semester Program, and other institutions and individuals.

(All events of Staging Alterity 2018 are free, for detailed schedule click here. )

(Image courtesy of the artists, provided by Shanghai Ming Contemporary Art Museum.)

Guest list

Biljana Ciric (Shanghai/Belgrade), Eisa Jocson (Manila), Ernestyna Orlowska (Zurich), Gao Yuan (Xi’ning), Humphrey Maleka (Johannesburg), Jesica Bastidas + Angi Nend + Jiecong Men (Mexico City/Zurich/Hangzhou), North Gate Theater Collective + Grass Stage (Shenzhen/Shanghai), Ophelia Huang (Shanghai), Pablo Zamorano (Absent due to private reasons) (San Diego/Madrid), Steven Schoch (Basel), 44Theatre (Shanghai/Guangzhou), Xu Zhifeng (Shanghai), Wang Molin + Xu Bin (Taipei), Wu Meng (Shanghai), You Mi (Cologne/Beijing), Yu Ji (Shanghai/Vienna), VAGA (Guangzhou/Taipei) and so on.

About the organizer/ initiator

In the past three years, Ming Contemporary Art Museum distinguishes itself through its promotion of contemporary art activities based on visual performance. Focused on experimental theatre and multimedia exhibition and performance with the involvement of the other activities related to the concept of performance. Through Staging Alterity 2018, the Museum hopes to promote the profound experimentation and interaction in these diverse domains, and to present various artistic expression.

Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council, is founded in 2010 with the aim to encourage dialogue between Swiss and Chinese cultural practitioners and institutions by supporting projects that enhance the exchange of knowledge and experience in the cultural field.

Zhao Chuan (Shanghai)

Zhao Chuan is a writer, theatre maker and curator, who creates alternative and socially engaged theatre in Shanghai. He is the founding member and mastermind of theatre collective Grass Stage since 2005. His work is devoted to the promotion of new social theatre movement and the creation of non-profit public space for intellectual exchange.  His works include the Social Theater Trilogy: World Factory (2014-2017), Little Society (2009-2011) and A Madman’s Stories (2006-2007). He has also been involved in many international art residencies and collaboration projects.

Biljana Ciric (Shanghai/Belgrade)

Biljana Ciric is an independent curator based in Shanghai and Belgrade. She was the co-curator of the 3rd Ural Industrial Bienniale for Contemporary Art (Yekaterinburg, 2015), curator in residency at Kadist Art Foundation (Paris, 2015) and a research fellow at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Høvikodden, 2016).

In 2013, Ciric initiated the seminar platform From a History of Exhibitions Towards a Future of Exhibition Making with the focus of China and Southeast Asia. The first seminar platform was hosted by St Paul St Gallery, AUT, New Zealand and currently, Ciric is working on a second assembly hosted by RAM in November 2018 related to exhibition histories with the focus on the 1990’s.

In 2018 she established educational platform What Could/Should Curating Do.

Eisa Jocson (Manila)

Eisa Jocson is a contemporary choreographer and dancer from the Philippines. Trained as a visual artist, with a background in ballet, she won the title of 2010 Pole Art Champion in Manila. From pole to macho dancing to hostess work to Disney work, Eisa investigates the labour and representations of the dancing body in the service industry, and exposes identity and gender formation, seduction politics, and Filipino social mobility.

Ernestyna Orlowska (Zurich)

Ernestyna Orlowska, born in 1987 in Poland, has a Bachelor in Fine Arts and a Master in Expanded Theater from the Berne University of Arts. In her artistic practice she merges the different disciplines of fine art, theater, performance and music. Her works are shown in galleries, independent art spaces, museums as well as theaters and festivals all over Europe. She won various grants/prizes for emerging performers, among others Tankstelle Lucerne 2015, Inkubator Zurich 2016, Kicks! Berne 2016, Premio 2018. In her current project BODIY she is investigating the body as the temporary address on earth through decontextualisation and alienation of body parts.

Gao Yuan (Xi’ning)

Gao Yuan was born in Xi’ning, Qinghai in 1981, and is now living and working in Xi’ning, as an artist and curator for contemporary art. His works are mainly in the form of live art and video. Gao founded Xi’ning Contemporary Art Space in 2016, and “Collapse Group”, a live art group, in 2013; he launched “Possibility” Body Art Workshop in 2009. He was invited to present his works at the 11th FIRST Youth Film Festival (Xi’ning, China), 2017 Dali International Photography Festival (Dali, China), the 4th “Passionate Body” International Live Art Biennial (Budapest, Hungary), the 2nd UP-ON International Live Art Festival (Chengdu, China), the 10th OPEN International Performing Art Festival (Beijing, China), and Exhibition in Commemoration of the 17th Anniversary of the Establishment of Sino-South Korean Diplomatic Relations (Seoul, South Korea).

Humphrey Maleka (Johannesburg)

Humphrey Maleka was born and raised in Soweto, Johannesburg. He started dancing at a young age, learning Pantsula and other township dance forms, and in 1991 was introduced to Afro-fusion and Contemporary dance styles.

Humphrey is interested in socio-political matters which affect people on a daily basis regardless of their race, culture, sexuality, class, religion, political affiliation etc. His intention is to bring these matters to the fore so that they can stimulate conversations and discussions amongst people in the hope that they will come up with solutions to our societal challenges.

Jesica Bastidas + Angi Nend + Jiecong Men (Mexico City/Zurich/Hangzhou)

Jesica Bastidas is a performer artist, whose work merges physical theatre, physical comedy, performance art, music, and most recently video, composing pieces that are located between visual art, choreography and performance. Because of her interest in the social field, she complements her scenic experience as an instructor of performing arts, clownerie and social circus. She graduated from the National School of Theatrical Arts (Mexico City, 2011), and has a Master Degree in Physical Theater, Accademia Teatro Dimitri (Switzerland, 2017). Her artistic interest and practice have evolved in the direction of cross-disciplinary collaborations, after having taken part in the Transcultural Collaboration Graduate Semester Program 2016 (Zürich – Hong Kong 2016). Her most recent projects deals with the topics of Cyborgfeminism and Decolonizing Alienation to create new narratives about possible futures or alternative presents, she is also a founding member of SuperEgo (Bern, Switzerland, 2016).

Angi Nend is interested in setting up scenarios and what he calls performative facilities using big variety of formats and medias like installations, lecture-performances, live action role plays, happenings, interventions, concerts. He is questioning the role and the autonomy of the artist as social and cultural entrepreneur and reflecting on working conditions and modes of production in cognitive capitalism. Therefore Angi Nend is investigating in potentialities of disobedience, refusal as well as loss of control and counter-paranoid strategies. Apart from self-organized and ephemeral circumstances his works were shown at places like Substistut Berlin, De Appel Amsterdam or Connecting Space Hong Kong. He is frequently collaborating with the LARP creator Omsk Social Club and was invited by Mattin to Documenta 14 in Kassel to present a scenario for the durational concert Social Dissonance.

Jiecong Men (a.k.a.Carmen) is a performance artist, researcher and editor. She received her Master Degree in curating research on contemporary art from China Academy of Art in 2017, focusing on the methodology and aesthetics of experimental theater. She is also engaged in physical performance training and theater producing. She went to Zurich University of the Arts(ZHdK) to study dramaturgy in 2015, and participated in Transcultural Collaboration Graduate Semester Program in Hong Kong, Zurich and Taipei in 2016. During the time, with her collaborators, they created multimedia performance: Improve Your Social Skills (Zurich, 2016), in rethinking of Zurich’s cultural filter system to immigrants and refugees. They also created It Will Become Someone Else’s Secret (Hong Kong, 2016), exploring the faith and ceremony in a context of post-human and cyborg. Currently, she writes regularly on performance, media art and cyber society. Going on field recordings and cities walks, she observes the relationship between people and cities, and their relationship to the network.

North Gate Theater Collective + Grass Stage (Shenzhen/Shanghai)

North Gate Workers’ Theatre Collective was founded in 2016 by workers worked near the north gate of Foxconn, Shenzhen. The collective mainly aims to present and express workers’ life in a theatrical way. Works of North Gate Workers’ Theatre Collective include Xiaoping Incident(2018), Our Stories series (2016, 2017), Little Home(2016), and Moonlight on the Mid-Autumn Festival (2016).

Grass Stage was founded in Shanghai in 2005, with writer, theatre director Zhao Chuan as its mastermind, and has since accumulated followers and influence. Grass Stage creates alternative, social related theatre in Shanghai. Their works devote to the promotion of new social theatre movement and the creation of non-profit public space. Within a framework of the most basic “poor theatre”, works by Grass Stage use a diverse set of techniques, engendering powerful spaces for intellectual exchange. Grass Stage events made use of a wide range of venues and situations for performances and discussions, are not only spaces for bringing together diverse elements of society, but also provide, in a country relatively lacking in opportunities for public participation, a fluid and varied range of public social spaces.

Ophelia Huang (Shanghai)

Ophelia Huang is a performance maker and theatre professional in Shanghai. With background in language and performance studies, she worked in arts journalism, translation and arts management. She curated Forest Fringe in China (2015) in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and currently works for Shanghai Drama Arts Center in charge of international projects and ACT Shanghai International Theatre Festival. Her solo and collaborative projects had been presented in festivals such as Forest Fringe(UK), Dadao Live Art Festival (China), and on various stages in China, UK and Serbia. Her recent works are often related to memory and history, such as Belong(2014) and MOTHERLAND(2016) which were about ex-Yugoslavia, and explore the possibility of performance as a research method in China.

Pablo Zamorano (San Diego/Madrid)

He lives and works at Santiago in Chile,had Bachelor of arts, majored in Dance and Master of Arts in Theater Director from University of Chile. He studied theater and singing, with special interest in improvisation and creation in contemporary dance. Elías Cohen, Serok Park, Solange Duran and Christophe Haleb were some of his mentors. He teaches modern and contemporary dance techniques. He was invited for artist in residency to Chateau de Monthelon (Montbard) and La Deviation (Marseille) France. He is the author of the bookUn Cuerpo Otro. It’s about performer and choreographer, published in 2017. He has created the solos Crónicas (2012), Deuda (nominated to the Chilean Altazor award in 2013), Sentidoseis (2016), Guacho (2017); and the group pieces Beauty (2017), Retrato Hablado (2012), Prácticas de Vuelo (2016), all of those were presented in festivals around Latin America and France.

Steven Schoch (Basel)

Steven Schoch is a visual artist, performance artist, choreographer and dancer as well as singer and musician. In 2012 he completed his Bachelor of Arts at the FHNW HGK in Basel, Switzerland. In 2017 he started the Master in Expanded Theater at the HKB in Bern Switzerland. His artistic work ranges between (video) performance / theater and installation and is characterized by his interdisciplinary approaches. His themes deal with our everyday being, which is characterized by ambivalence and contradictions, and examines their aesthetics with a variety of means. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he initiated the still-ongoing temporary use “Flatterschafft” – a studio house with its approximately 80 tenants and the associated project and event space – an important place for creative professionals and the cultural scene in Basel. 2015 – 2017 he was jury member of the Young Talent Award Basel-Stadt. In 2014, he himself received the contribution from the canton of Appenzell-Ausserrhoden Switzerland. The canton of St.Gallen and Appenzell Ausserrhoden (CH) have bought works from him in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 he received the dance scholarship “DanceWeb” at ImpulsTanz Festival in Vienna. He has had solo and group exhibitions as well as performances in Europe and abroad.

44Theatre (Shanghai/Guangzhou)

Theater 44 intends to build upon and participate in both a practical and dynamic youth movement of the commons, based upon the collaboration and mutual attempt of its participants to curtail hegemony and the delusions of subject positioning. It does not seek the efficiencies of professional divisions of labor, but instead sees that the only way towards solidarity is via common effort. It is via these forms of solidarity-making that Theater 44 explores a kind of prefigurative theory and praxis.

Xu Zhifeng (Shanghai)

Xu Zhifeng aka Shaw explores the theoretical and social experience of architecture through performance pieces and art exhibitions that intervene in urban spaces. He studied architecture at the Fine Art College of Shanghai University between 2003 –2008 and currently lives and works in Shanghai.

Wang Molin + Xu Bin (Taipei)

Wang Molin was born in 1949 in Tainan, Taiwan. He is a veteran art/culture critic, playwright, theatre director and performance artist. In the late 1990s, as the pioneer of Taiwanese Little Theatre Movement, Wang organized and produced October(1987), a grand-scale outdoor show in a worn-down warehouse on the beach, and Taiwan’s first “action theatre” event Dispel Orchid Island’s Evil Spirit (1988). In 1991, Wang founded Body Phase Studio as a rudiment of International Performance Art Festival in Taiwan. In 1997, Wang wrote and produced TSOU· Oedipus as a rare example of collaboration between a Taiwanese civil troupe and China Youth Art Theatre in Mainland China during that time. From 2005 to 2008, he served as artistic director of the Guling Street Avant-garde Theatre. His theatrical works have been performed in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Busan, Macau and other cities. His publications include Chinese Cinema and TheatrePost-Shōwa JapanUrban Body and TheatreEssays On Body, and others.

Xu Bin was born in the countryside of Tainan in 1954. He is a documentary photographer. His work is oriented on subjective thinking and objective documentation.

Wu Meng (Shanghai)

Artist and theater worker. Her work comprises documentary film, theater, performance art, and other genres. Her recent work revolves around the connections between history and individual life, and the possibilities of dialogue therein.  She is one of the founding members of the Grass Stage, with whom she has performed in Little SocietyWorld Factory, and a dozen other pieces. Her own theatrical work includes The Garden of Metamorphoses (2013), I’m Being Chased by Life (2015, 2016), among others.  Beginning in 2008 she has appeared many times in the “Asia Meets Asia” annual performances, and in 2010 she participated in the “Everybody’s East Lake” art project. She presented performance art pieces in the OPEN International Performance Art Festival (2013) and in the first Southeast Asian Biennale (2014). Her co-directed documentary, Shanghai Youth, was selected as one of the top ten documentaries in the Chinese Independent Documentary Exhibition (2014).

You Mi (Cologne/Beijing)

You Mi is a Beijing-born curator, researcher, and assistant professor at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. Her long-term research and curatorial project takes the Silk Road as a figure for deep-time, deep-space and nomadic imageries. Under this rubric she has curated a series of performative programmes at the Asian Culture Center Theater in Gwangju, South Korea and the inaugural Ulaanbaatar International Media Art Festival, Mongolia (2016). Her academic interests are in performance philosophy, science and technology studies, and philosophy of immanence in Eastern and Western traditions. Her writings appear in Performance Research, PARSE, MaHKU script: Journal of Fine Art Research, among others.

Yu Ji (Shanghai/Vienna)

Based in Shanghai and Vienna currently, Yu Ji deals primarily with sculpture and installation, yet her diverse practice includes also performance and video. Her current exhibitions include: SOON ENOUGH: ART IN ACTION, Tensta Konstahall, Stockholm, Sweden; HUGO BOSS ASIA ART: Award for Emerging Asian Artists, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China; Why not Ask Again? Maneuvers, Disputations and Stories- 11th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China. Meanwhile, Yu Ji is the co-founder of the not-for-profit artist-run space Am Art Space in Shanghai.

VAGA (Guangzhou/Taipei)

VAGA was founded in 2016 by dancer Yang Liu and artist Guo Yingxiu. With the project “Embodying Places” carried out in recent years, the two artists of VAGA are trying to read and write by means of their own bodies in various places, and having dialogues. VAGA had worked on residence art projects in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Guangzhou, China, and as well as in Greece, Indonesia and other countries, producing body engaged visual and theatrical works. VAGA was invited to 2017 Shenzhen Fringe Festival, and their works were selected for 2017 IN|DUST|REAL| Video Art Event in Romania, “Off the Wall” in the USA, and 2018 OGA Video Art Exhibition in Italy.

Staging Alterity 2016:

Dialogues on Different Worlds / Different Theatres


Curator: Zhao Chuan
Time: Dec.8-11, 2016
Venue: Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum

Organizer: Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum
Superviser: Shanghai International Cultural Communication Association
Initiator: Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council
Supporting Organisation: Cultural and Education Section of the German Consulate General in Shanghai

Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum and Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council jointly invites Zhao Chuan to curate the “Staging Alterity: Dialogues on Different Worlds / Different Theatres” project from Dec.8-11, 2016. During the 4 days’ activity, theatrical artists, performance artists, and scholars from Africa, Asia, America, Europe and other areas will be invited to meet at the Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum to present, through presentations, dialogues and workshops, creative projects from various regions in the fresh and lively location of Shanghai, exploring various artistic paths in theatre, performance aesthetics, and creative methods under different social conditions in different regions.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, the major transformations on the world stage have been accompanied by significant changes on the small stage. On the global stage, the once dominant western-centric modernization narrative has been challenged by other forms of globalization, postcolonial criticism, counter-hegemonic projects, and multiculturalism. The theatrical scene provides a privileged space in which we can involve ourselves in the process of shaping our individual and collective futures by sharing and discussing regional experiences, in their commonalities and in their differences, and by exploring new possibilities for future collaboration. This project is not simply a response to outside pressures, but is also deeply rooted in particular regions’ internal dynamics.

The creation, experimentation, and production of theater and live performance are linked with these dynamics. For various reasons, however, the dominant concepts, practices, and forms of theatrical and other performances come largely from the West. Nevertheless, Asian, African, and other theatrical and performative traditions, through their acute, vivid, and creative relationship to local and regional society, retain much that is their own.

“Staging Alterity: Dialogues on Different Worlds / Different Theatres” hopes to foster new points of articulation and new opportunities for further sharing and mutual participation, developing different orientations and horizons for contemporary culture. Even today, Most Chinese theater festivals are dominated by mainstream western theatrical traditions and values. The question is how can we build our own theatrical culture, develop different perspectives, and explore different forms of creativity and aesthetics?

(Image courtesy of the artists, provided by Minsheng Art Museum)

Guest list

Boris Nikitin (Switzerland/ theatre), Charlie Haffner (Sierra Leon/ theatre), Christopher Connery (USA/ Culture Studies), Dai Chenlian (China/ theatre), David Glass (UK/ theatre), Eisa Jocson (Philippines/ dance and performance art), Fangling Huang (China/ theatre), Hans-Georg Knopp (Germany/ culture strategy), Kai Tuchmann (Germany/ theatre), Kyung-Sung Lee (Korea/ theatre), Marlene Monteiro Freitas (absent, Cape Verde & Portugal/ dance), nunu kong (China/ dance), Ophelia Huang (China/ theatre), Sankar Chindavalap Venkateswaran (India/ theatre), Tao Qingmei (China/ academic and criticism), Tian Mansha (China/ theatre and Sichuan opera), Wadan Wuma (Taiwan /performance art), Wang Mo-lin (Taiwan/ theatre and criticism), Wu Meng (China/ theatre and performance art), Xu Zhifeng (China/ contemporary art), Yu Ji (China/ contemporary art), Zhang Xiaochuan.

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